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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2015 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Vermilion Snapper

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for the commercial sector for vermilion snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. NMFS projects that commercial landings for vermilion snapper will reach the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for the January 1 through June 30, 2015, fishing period on April 15, 2015. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial sector for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ on April 15, 2015, and it will remain closed until the start of the July 1 through December 31, 2015, fishing period. This closure is necessary to protect the South Atlantic vermilion snapper resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, April 15, 2015, until 12:01 a.m., local time, July 1, 2015.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Britni LaVine, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: britni.lavine@noaa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes vermilion snapper and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

The commercial quota for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic is divided into separate quotas for two 6-month time periods, January through June and July through December. For the January 1 through June 30, 2015, fishing season, the commercial quota is 394,829 lb (179,091 kg), gutted weight (438,260 lb (198,791 kg), round weight), as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(4)(i)(C).

On February 26, 2015, NMFS published a temporary rule in the Federal Register to reduce the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper in or from the EEZ of the South Atlantic to 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight, effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 2, 2015, until July 1, 2015, or until the quota is reached and the commercial sector closes, whichever occurs first (80 FR 10392).

In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 622.193(f)(1), NMFS is required to close the commercial sector for vermilion snapper when the commercial quota for that portion of the fishing year has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for South Atlantic vermilion snapper for the January-June fishing period will have been reached by April 15, 2015. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South Atlantic vermilion snapper is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, April 15, 2015, until 12:01 a.m., local time, July 1, 2015. The commercial quota for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic is 394,829 lb (179,091 kg), gutted weight (438,260 lb (198,791 kg), round weight), for the July 1 through December 31, 2015, fishing period, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(4)(ii)(C).

The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper having vermilion snapper onboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such vermilion snapper prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, April 15, 2015. During the closure, the bag limit specified in 50 CFR 622.187(b)(5) and the possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.187(c)(1), apply to all harvest or possession of vermilion snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ. During the closure, the sale or purchase of vermilion snapper taken from the EEZ is prohibited. As specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(i), the prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of vermilion snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, April 15, 2015, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on board a vessel for which a Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery has been issued, the bag and possession limits and the sale and purchase provisions of the commercial closure for vermilion snapper would apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(ii).

Classification

The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic vermilion snapper and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(f)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial sector for vermilion snapper constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule itself has been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Allowing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action to protect vermilion snapper since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would likely result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial quota.

For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

Start Authority

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: April 6, 2015.

Emily H. Menashes,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2015-08174 Filed 4-6-15; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P